16 Days in Serbia Campaign 2009

The Campaign “16 days of Activism against Violence against Women” every year is marked from November 25th,  International Day against Violence against Women till  December 10th, International Human Rights Day.  Since 1995, Campaign is organized in Serbia by women’s NGOs and every time it deals with various aspects of the social problem of violence against women. In 2009, under the name “Not a Woman Less, Not a Woman Dead Anymore,” Campaign draws attention to the murder of women as the most drastic form of violence in partner relationships. In Serbia, in every 10 days a one woman is killed by current or former partner.

This year the Campaign was organized by Autonomous Women’s Center, Network of Women against Violence, a Feminist Traveling Caravan and Reconstruction Women’s Fund in collaboration with women’s NGOs in 57 cities and smaller places, several rural municipalities and Roma settlements.

The performance “If Dead We Stand Up” by Feminist Traveling Caravan The Campaign “16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women” encompasses several different actions. Traveling performance through the cities of Serbia, for last seven years is a central part of the Campaign. Every year, street performance deals with certain aspects of the problem of male violence against women.

This year’s street performance “If Dead We Stand Up” is dedicated to the women killed by their current or former partners. The focus was on the fates of women murdered in public spaces. During the 2008, 49 women were killed in Serbia. Institutions as well as surroundings did not adequately respond to calls for help and protection of the majority of murdered women.

The performance “If Dead We Stand Up” as a direct street action reminds us that murder is the most drastic consequence of male violence against women.
In 2009, Traveling performance visited the following cities: Belgrade, Novi Sad, Vranje, Niš, Leskovac.
Through this socially engaged performance, we tried to make stories of the women that many did not hear about, to make it visible to broader public and to directly confront the audience and the public with the fact that the issue of violence against women must not remain taboo and that each of us must engage, respond and be aware of the existence of the phenomenon of violence.

This year, the reason to go to cities such as Vranje, Nis, Leskovac, Novi Sad was a fact that the highest rate of murdered women were recorded there.
On November 25, International Day against Violence against Women performance was held at the main Republic Square in Belgrade. Time of performances (5 p.m.) proved to be strategically a good time because a lot of people returning from work or school. Attendance this year was very high.

During the performance, various reactions and comments of people could be heard: “This is terrible,” “Did it really so many women were killed?”, “Again, a sect,” “Oops, it’s all creepy”.  Two women from the audience turned to for help directly to activists of Autonomous Women’s Center, because they identify with the story and scared for their life.
In other cities in Serbia, we saw the different reactions, and heard different experiences.
In Novi Sad, a lot of people were present. First with disbelief and later with deep sorrow and empathy they watched and listened the stories of murdered women that were told by actresses. Hostility and insults could be heard only from young people. On our big surprise, several men approached to them and explained that violence is a serious social problem and that is so sad to laugh and say dirty words on the fact that some women were killed and suffered from the violence for a long time.

In Vranje was touching and powerful. The audience was feeling like they knew women that we were telling about in performance, as their neighbors, colleagues, cousins. As an integral part of the set in performance is large monument dedicated to women victims of domestic violence: In memory of 49 murdered women in Serbia, in year 2008. One young man approached the monument during the performance and kissed it.
In this town, 4 women were brutally killed, in the period of just one year. ere asking how they can help and join the action. The most moving scene was a woman who was all the time sitting on the ground, crying and repeat: “I’m the next.” Soon she was approached by activist who provides her assistance.

In Leskovac, the performance has attracted a lot of attention. Young people were asking about the prevention from violence, took the pamphlets that were delivered by activists. Strong reactions of the audience and the idea that each of us can be in situation of violence, but that it has a solution and need to react and to fight against, left us in a positive spirit that what we do, have a good channel and strongly interact with the audience.
This year’s performance was seen by about 1,500 people.

Through Campaign “16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women,” women’s organizations require more effective law enforcement and demand from state institutions to take responsibility in the systematical protection of women and children from male violence.

This year, the preparation and implementation of performance involved:

  • Directed by: Ivana Koraksić
  • Actresses: Biljana Stankovic-Lori, Vesna Bujošević, Sasa Pokrajac, Ana Imširović
  • Scenario: Jelena Andjelovski
  • Designer: Marija Vidic
  • Technique: Nikola Cakić
  • Organization: Zoe Gudović
  • Photo: Biljana Rakocevic

Performance was organized in:

  • 25.11. from 5 – 6 p.m.Belgrade
  • 27.11. from 5 – 6 p.m.Novi Sad
  • 1.12. from 5 – 6 Vranje
  • 2.12. from 5 – 6 Nis
  • 3.12. from 5 – 6 Leskovac

During seven years of traveling feminist caravan we cooperated with many women’s organizations throughout Serbia. All the time it empowered us and gave us the opportunity to connect, spread feminist ideas, and to fight together against violence.
This year’s gratitude for the dedicated work and hospitality groups goes to: NLO Lesbian Organization, Novi Sad, Vranje SOS, SOS telephone Osvit, Niš, Women for Peace-Leskovac. In cooperation with Autonomous Women’s Center, Reconstruction Women’s Fund, Network of Women against Violence and Cultural Center Rex, this year we have successfully carried out the campaign.Previous performances:

Performances Why they are not among us?They don’t have trust. Why?Red card for perpetratorsDo you see violence against women, Do react, until it’s too late!I can’t leave because… and If Dead We Stand Up became in interaction of art and activism, with aim to change conscience and social relations.

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December 9, Celebration of Women’s Human Rights

We wish you a lot of positive energy in 2010!